Intrepid Holgate Land Rover team off on their toughest challenge yet


Words: Land Rover South Africa

Kingsley Holgate, Africa's supreme Land Rover adventurer and philanthropist, will begin his next world-first geographic and humanitarian expedition into some of the most dangerous and unexplored regions of Africa – all in search of its beating heart.

Photo credit: Land Rover

Located in the northern Congo bordering one of the world’s largest impenetrable equatorial rainforests lies the true centre of the African continent – an area described by National Geographic as ‘the last place on earth.’

‘We’ve criss-crossed Mama Afrika from South to North, East to West and then circumnavigated the outline of the continent in a single expedition through 33 countries. As a family we were able to embrace all 54 African countries through several journeys of discovery. It’s only natural that our next Land Rover challenge is to find her heart, Africa’s geographical centre,’ says Kingsley Holgate, Africa’s Greybeard of adventure.

Kingsley will be tackling this epic odyssey in one of the last Land Rover Defenders to come off the production line as manufactures at Solihull prepare for the end of the iconic Defender. Holgate’s trip to the heart of Africa is the ultimate way to celebrate Defender, as both are legends in their own way.

The ‘centre of gravity’ method was used to determine Africa’s centre point, the same method used to determine the geographical centres of Australia and the United States of America.

“The International Geographical Union has scrutinized the methodology used to compute the geographical co-ordinates of the place in the African continent that most closely corresponds to its Geographic Centre Point…and confirms that Africa’s Centre Point is located… (coordinates kept confidential) west of the Unbanji River and southeast of the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in northern Republic of Congo,” says Michael Meadows, Secretary and Treasurer, International Geographical Union.

The Kingsley Holgate Foundation’s Heart of Africa Expedition is also endorsed by the Department of Environmental & Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town.

The expedition will depart on the 23rd of August from Landy Festival, the largest Land Rover event in the Southern Hemisphere and a fitting start as hundreds of Defender owners will escort Kingsley and his team as they set off on their Heart of Africa Expedition.

The expedition route will take the team from South Africa through seldom-visited areas of Angola, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the heart of Africa in northern Republic of Congo.

Challenges that the team of modern-day Land Rover explorers will face is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

“It’s going to be our toughest expedition yet. Satellite images show the spot as Equatorial rainforest and to reach the geographic centre point of Africa we will use Land Rovers, mountain bikes, river boats, dugout canoe and finally on foot, and probably elbows and knees,” says Ross Holgate, the expedition’s operations leader who is also in charge of mapping and navigation.

As per Holgate custom, a traditional Zulu calabash will be filled with symbolic water at the Cradle of Humankind near Lesedi Cultural Village, to be emptied at the Heart of Africa coordinates in the Congo to mark the end of the expedition. The team will also carry a Scroll of Peace and Goodwill to be messaged along the way.

As with all Holgate expeditions the team will carry out humanitarian endeavours in the countries they will be traversing, to include malaria prevention, the distribution of water purification LifeStraws and spectacles for the poor sighted through Mashozi’s Rite to Sight campaign together with much needed community conservation education.

“If all goes according to plan’, says the Greybeard with a grin, ‘a beacon will for the first time in history be placed at the geographic centre of Mama Afrika. It all promises to be a great adventure!”